Free Software economics

Bernhard E. Reiter bernhard at
Tue Sep 4 10:05:14 UTC 2018

Hi Paul,

[deliberately breaking the thread, so this does not get drowned in unrelated 
stuff, only quoting a bit]

Am Freitag 31 August 2018 15:35:21 schrieb Paul Boddie:
> Unfortunately, the "for exposure" culture encourages people to overstretch.

It is just one out of several motivations to develop Free Software or 
participate actively in a community.

In general I think the good effects of "for exposure" are exaggerated in 
society, it seems to be a problem of modern social media.

ut the "for exposure" argument is overblown in other parts of society as well, 
it is a general problem of modern social media. Just think about influencers.

> In one case in the Python community, someone who had been "all over" every
> topic of concern eventually burned out:

It is sad to read. 
We can find many examples.
When making policies and organisating, we need to keep looking out for
a work/volunteer/life balance. Doing this for Free Software is quite similiar 
to other job or honorary positions.

> since this kind of "noble volunteerism" meshes with a popular flavours
> of capitalism, such people and the lessons they have for us are readily
> forgotten, their misfortune seen as "regrettable" but somehow an acceptable
> cost to bring about other people's success. 

At least not here. We must teach people how to keep the balance, make good 
choices and we need to make sure that the structure in society allows for 
people to grow, be happy. Hopefully even catching them, if they stumble and 

> I mention this particularly because it may help some people to understand
> why people become so aggrieved and feel mistreated.

It is one reason to become aggieved, there are others as well.
However when being in such a state it is more important to watch out for 
oneself and leave the situation which causes this sort of stress.
And while surrounding people maybe empathic, they also need to be clear to 
draw a line and sometimes to end the situation to protect themselfs and this 
person in an emotional difficult situation.

== Professional offerings for Free Software

> There most certainly are professional offerings, yes. But then again, there
> are people like Werner whose PGP libraries are being used by billion dollar
> corporations as the foundation of their businesses' operational viability,
> and yet it apparently took security scares in other cryptographic libraries
> and Edward Snowden's remarks to crack open wallets and get things funded at
> a more tolerable level.

The publications of Edward Snowden were a wakeup call for some. It maybe sad 
that it sometimes has to make headlines before people take some action.

However I believe that the growing numbers of supporters of FSFE also 
support our mission because they like what we are explaining it to more policy 
makers and companies why funding better Free Software is in their own best 
interest (while being better for society as well). 

> I am arguing against the zero-sum game played by various businesses,
> the result of which is a shoal of little fish whose only defence is not to
> be big enough to be noticed by the big (proprietary) fish that everybody
> else has to deal with.

This seems to say that many Free Software businesses could do something in a 
better way. While I agree that offerings could be better, this would also 
take customers to be willing to buy those offerings. It is a circle and if we 
want it to grow, we can act at any situation. (This is why I had started 
paying for Free Software many years ago.)

> From conversations I have had over the years, I sometimes wonder whether
> certain companies regard their Free Software competitors as worse enemies
> than the proprietary vendors and solutions they should all be doing their
> best to defeat. So that game of divide and rule continues, of course.

To me it seem natural that the small company offering something similar to 
yours is often seen as competitor. However there are business associations 
where the same companies are working together. E.g. the Open Source Business 
Alliance in Germany.

From personal experience I can say that it is a challenge to cooperate with 
many companies, just size would not get you the contracts. (My company does 
cooperate as much as we can, this is why I know it is difficult.)

Best Regards,

FSFE -- Founding Member     Support our work for Free Software: | contribute
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